Whitening toothpaste, perfume, hair extensions, stretch-mark cream, anti-wrinkle cream, hair-removal cream and body scrubs all sound like modern comforts. However, each of these substances were actually present in 3000 BC (approximately 5000 years ago)!
Cleopatra, the last active Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, is often regarded as one of the first beauty icons, due to her chic bobbed hair and sleek winged eyeliner. Cleopatra famously bathed in a mixture of milk and honey – the milk of a young donkey mixed with fresh honey and almond oil. Legend has it that she would travel with two donkeys, just in case… Cleopatra would also order her servants to scrub her body with water and salt from the Dead Sea, a practice that no doubt inspired the modern use of body scrubs to ensure soft skin. Cleopatra is often speculated to be a contributor to the ancient manuscript ‘The Beginning of the Book on How to Make the Old Young’.
Cleopatra is perhaps most famous for her elaborate, thick, almond-shaped eyeliner. It is believed that Egyptians would paint their eyes this way with kohl eyeliner in order to imitate their God, Horus. The eye of Horus was believed to have magical protective powers – Horus lost an eye in battle, which was later restored magically. Therefore, the ancient Egyptians wore black kohl and used green eye paints under their eye to ward off evil spirits and as a way to keep their eyes protected from eye diseases.
The Eyes Have It
It is often expressed that no other country or culture valued beautification and body care as much as the Ancient Egyptians. Kohl eyeliner was found in the tombs of Nefertiti and her daughters; kohl eyeliner, which was often worn in thick, winged fashion, was thought to provide protection from the evil eye (as well as protecting the delicate eye area from the sun’s rays). The lead-based substances in the kohl promoted the production of nitric oxide in their skin, which helped strengthen their immune systems against diseases. These guys were really onto something!
Cleanliness Meant Holiness
The Egyptian’s cosmetics trade was enormous; it was second only to timber, with regard to foreign commerce. Body oils and perfumes were highly favoured by the Ancient Egyptians. Thousands of years on, pots and jars of perfumes and oils were found in their tombs, with many retaining their gorgeous fragrance. Cosmetic palettes (mostly eye make-up) were found buried with the deceased as grave goods, which further emphasised the idea that cosmetics were not only used for aesthetic purposes but for magical, spiritual and religious purposes.
Wigs were also big business 5000 years ago. Wig boxes were found in tombs and the remains of ancient wig makers were discovered during excavations.
Thanks to modern technology, we now know that the Ancient Egyptians used around 21 different vegetable and essential oils for cosmetic purposes.
The reason why the Egyptians were so concerned with beauty and fragrance is that they considered cleanliness to be associated with purity, and therefore holiness. Beautiful aromas were thought to indicate the presence of the sacred. They were extremely conscious of body odour as unpleasant smells were attributed to impurity. They believed that, in order to be protected from the evil eye and other negative omens, being attractive was to be clean and therefore magically protected.
Cleanliness and attractiveness has always been an indicator of good health, something which is always favoured for evolutionary and reproductive purposes.
In order to stay clean and fresh, the Ancient Egyptians relied mostly on a substance called natron. Natron was harvested as a salt mixture from dry lake beds, and was used for thousands of years as a cleaning product for both the body and the home. When blended with oil, natron made a soapy mixture which removes oil and grease (from skin and other surfaces). The Egyptians also made an effective toothpaste solution from natron!
However, in the 21st century you don’t have to rely on natron to achieve a clear, refreshed complexion! The Obagi Clear range ofObagi Products is a clinically proven and effective way of transforming dull and sun damaged skin, decreasing pore size, reducing fine lines, soothing acne and even treating skin colouration and pigmentation issues. For more information, please do not hesitate tocontact us here at Skinstation.